I’m sitting on my deck after midnight and I’m freaking out. The cicadas are doing their thing and there’s one cricket who is losing his mind and all I can think is SING IT BROTHER. SCREAM FOR ME, TOO.
I’m doing OK. Until I’m not. In the morning my parents head back home. Friday I get a COVID test. In a week I get a piece of me, an alien, unwanted, abnormal lump mass malignant metastatic piece of me carved out. It will be outpatient surgery. I have my choice of twilight or complete anesthesia, just like I had my choice of carving out a lump or lopping off the whole thing. Thing being breast. Thing being the part of my body that began developing when I was ten. That fed my son when I was twenty-three. That has been part of me and who I am for forty years.
That’s what scared me about the mastectomy, and I didn’t even know how drastic that would be. I didn’t actively consider that part of me would be gone. Forever. No feelings or sensations anymore. Not just a sculpture formed from another part of my body, but an inanimate object where there had once been a galaxy of sensitivity.
Today – yesterday? It is after Midnight, after all – Today I scheduled my lumpectomy. One week from today this thing, not my breast but the thing that’s taken up residence in my breast, will be gone. Carved out by a skilled surgeon. Sliced and slided and sent to a pathologist, who will say, definitively, what was inside me and whether there is more. My Oncologist is optimistic. He’s my quarterback. There’s only one play, as far as he’s concerned, and that is total eradication. My Surgeon, and I’m not even going to try to extend the football metaphor because that would be painful for everyone, is also optimistic. If you’re going to have breast cancer, this is the one to have, they said.
Once a teacher’s pet translates, I suppose.
It’s after midnight, almost one in the morning, and f everything if I haven’t cried sloppy tears multiple times in the last twenty-four hours and if I weren’t wondering how I’m going to fill the next six days so I don’t drive Jim crazy. So I don’t drive myself crazy. And I need to call my son. I should have called him today.
I want to be strong. I’m trying to be strong. It’s tiny! It’s minor! It’s Stage 1A, for insert-higher-figure-here sake! Diagnosis on August 18th. Removal September 8. Three weeks. Nothing. Lifetime.
That’s a surreal statistic. I could be cancer-free three weeks after learning I had it in the first place. I didn’t even know that was possible. Many friends have suggested I connect with Imerman Angels. I’m familiar with them, know Jonny, and know what they do. I never thought I would need them myself, but now when it’s a possibility, I find myself reluctant to call. (This is not a plea for suggestions that I should call.)
I feel like I should be grateful. I am. I am grateful. I’m also scared sad angry frustrated etc etc etc.
I don’t WANT to be happy that it’s Stage 1A. But I am. I’m happy that they found it when they did. Holy sardines am I happy that I had insurance, finally, and finally scheduled those “routine” checkups. Every doctor has asked if this lump was something I found, and I told each one, “Nope.” Right time, right mammogram.
How would you feel, in this situation?
God, I’m scared.
Mom and Dad leave in the morning. I sit on my deck with a bug zapper lamp and bug soother spray and a husband dozing on the couch so he can be there when I decide to come inside. I sit out here and put my pain and hope and confusion and pleas into words. At least I hope all of that makes it into this, this whatever it is that tries to communicate what I’m feeling.
It’s a chasm. A crevasse between what I think I should feel (relief) versus what I actually feel (everything else).
This will never be easy.